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SportsMonday: Thank You, NFL

I'll take a 17th real NFL football game next season thank you very much. And that means there are now only two "ultimate fan rip-off" exhibition games per team rather than four, right? And it gives the Bears significantly more cap space (all the other teams get it as well I know but we're accentuating the positive here) as they work on signing free agents in the next few days?

Teams can finalize contracts on Wednesday after beginning sanctioned negotiations with qualifying players later today.

With everything else essentially shut down in world sports other than Mexican and Russian professional soccer, I would like to express my humble thanks for the ongoing NFL offseason, which got a massive boost over the weekend with the passing of a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players.

That is an offseason that is brought to us by all of 31 votes out of about 2,000 cast. If that many ballots had been switched from "In favor" of the new CBA to "Opposed," the agreement wouldn't have happened and teams would have had to go forward using the numbers from the previous agreement.

And that would not have been good for the Bears, who rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL in terms of cap space. Could the fact that the agreement passed encourage the Bears to go ahead and take their club option of employing defensive end Leonard Floyd for about $13 million in the coming season rather than dumping him for more space? We'll find out shortly.

We won't have basketball, baseball and hockey games for a while but at least we'll have NFL free agency and the draft.

The Bears already surprised the fan base recently when they announced the re-signing of Danny Trevathan to a new three-year deal. The general consensus had been that the team was committed to former top-10 pick Roquan Smith as the centerpiece of their defense in the other middle linebacker spot, but perhaps there are going to be consequences for Smith up and skipping a game for a still-unexplained "personal" reason last season.

Perhaps, in addition to finding that Trevathan wasn't going to be as expensive to re-sign as they had feared he would be, the Bears are also having second thoughts about turning the defense over to Smith.

It also seems to indicate that Floyd is still very much in limbo. People assume that the Bears continue to be more committed to making it work with guys who are former top 10 picks, but perhaps Ryan Pace is smart enough to know that if they aren't good enough and he has other options, especially focusing on the next two seasons (as opposed to the long term), he should take them.

Pace's evasive blabbering about the quarterback position the last time he was questioned about Mitch Trubisky also seems to open the door at least a crack to an honest assessment of that part of the roster. That is an assessment that Bears fans had to be more pessimistic than anything.

Because if Pace has done that along with coach Matt Nagy, there is obviously a better chance that he will bring in better competition for the signal-caller who has been a complete bust for the Bears so far. Be still my speculatin' heart.

And the best thing of all in the midst of all this is the fact that speculation about free agency and then drafting (April 23-25) can make for the most compelling sports conversations. It turns out that reviews of games are oftentimes not the most entertaining sports analysis media - speculation about how your team will address its needs and improve for next season are.

That and assessments of how other teams are doing, especially division rivals. So bring it on, Bears! Even if you don't have a first, third or real fourth-round pick (their recently rewarded compensatory pick is between the fourth and fifth rounds) in this draft as you pay for Pace's profligate trading away of picks in opposition to the way every other team in the NFL drafts, it is still way, way better than nothing.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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